Horrible Bosses Movie Review (2011)
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Horrible Bosses Movie Review (2011)

Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) was happy with his job, but with his bosses' son Bobby (Colin Farrell) running things, he just can't take it anymore. Nick, Dale and Kurt ponder about wanting their bosses dead one night, though it becomes real when they pay a "criminal" (Jamie Foxx) to help them do the dirty deed. Together they get information on their bosses, though not all goes as planned when Dale inadvertently saves one of the bosses' lives while breaking and entering. However, it gets much worse when one of the bosses kills another, and the guys are soon implicated on murder charges that only they can prove false.

What if you hated your boss so much that you wanted them dead? That's the question Horrible Bosses asks, though not with as much consistency you would expect. Based on the trailers, Horrible Bosses looked like one of those comedies where there isn't more than meets the eye – for lack of a better analogy. How much you laugh with Horrible Bosses depends on a number of things. If you like predictable situations with unpredictable results, then you'll leave more than satisfied. If not, then you'll find parts of Horrible Bosses to be occasionally boring and a bit tiring as the film approaches to a semi-predictable ending.

But even with the lack of true surprises, Horrible Bosses actually works once one overlooks the limitations of the script and the grating presence of Charlie Day. The more you watch, the more you forget about its flaws and just go with the laughs. Nick Hendricks (Bateman) is an Executive at a firm who is frequently abused by his boss Dave Harken (Spacey), who tricks him into drinking scotch in order to get a promotion. Dale (Day) is a dental assistant who is frequently hit on by his sexually obsessed boss Julia (Aniston), who is so relentless that she resorts to blackmailing him to sleep with her just as he is about to get married.

Kurt (Jason Sudeikis) was happy with his job, but with his bosses' son Bobby (Colin Farrell) running things, he just can't take it anymore. Nick, Dale and Kurt ponder about wanting their bosses dead one night, though it becomes real when they pay a "criminal" (Jamie Foxx) to help them do the dirty deed. Together they get information on their bosses, though not all goes as planned when Dale inadvertently saves one of the bosses' lives while breaking and entering. However, it gets much worse when one of the bosses kills another, and the guys are soon implicated on murder charges that only they can prove false.

At first sight I wasn't all impressed with Horrible Bosses. With all of the annoying attempts to make us laugh and the worn out high concept premise, Horrible Bosses seemed doomed to fail as yet another forgettable attempt to make Bateman, Sudeikis or Day a leading man. However, what I found was that the more I watched, the less I complained about the film's various problems. Some of it comes from the script, which to my amazement was written by three people. If I didn't know better, I thought some college kids wrote the script out of spite and anger without really getting into the characters' heads. Horrible Bosses is really more of a character based comedy, but rarely do we get a feel for the characters beyond understanding why they hate their bosses.

It threatens to make Horrible Bosses one pitiful gag after another, specifically with all the drugs Day does and Spacey's performance that borders on psychotic. Eventually the script becomes rather trite and contrived, although that's not what the movie is about. It's all about laughing at something that would never happen in real life, and as far as laughs go Horrible Bosses accomplishes its goals. Charlie Day however doesn't get the movie to achieve anything, as his high pitched voice and relentless need to mug the camera makes him look more of a mental patient than a capable dental assistant. His act works in It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia because it fits the tone, but in Horrible Bosses he needs to be more grounded.

Most of the acting in Horrible Bosses is hit or miss, so Day at least doesn't become the only offender. Sudeikis seems a bit full of himself, lacking a great presence as a comedian. But I give him credit for at least building good chemistry with Bateman, as their constant jabs at Day adds something unpredictable to the film. Playing yet another vulnerable character, Bateman does an adequate if unexceptional job as the guy who has the biggest issue with his boss. Though Spacey has bite, he seems all wrong for a comedy like Horrible Bosses. He seems stuck in 90's mode when he was really something, and Spacey goes over the top to make sure we sympathize with Bateman and his friends wanting him dead.

It doesn't work as well as it should, primarily because he's too much of a dick. At the very least, Aniston is quite raunchy and funny as the sexpot Dentist. Defying her good girl stereotype, Aniston is easily the best aspect of Horrible Bosses. I didn't expect much out of her given her lack of appeal as a lead comedian, but in an ensemble flick like Horrible Bosses she works quite well. Unlike Spacey, Aniston has a better feel for the material by adding enough awkwardness to intimidate Day while being creepy enough to feel like a boss who solely exists in a fantasy world. She might be the only reason I think highly of Horrible Bosses in small doses, and trust me Horrible Bosses has many flaws beyond what I just said above.

I do admire that the film throws us plenty of curve balls, which make us more engaged with the plot than we should. But somehow the movie overstays its welcome, reducing the three leads from being calculating optimists to complete idiots. Then again, there wouldn't be as many laughs now would there? It's true that Horrible Bosses is deeply uneven and needs a more refined script. It's true that the film has next to nothing as far as surprises go. But even with those issues, the cast make the most out of the scatter shot material and works well enough to sustain its laughs. It lacks a great amount of laughs or a stable storyline, but you'll get your fair share of amusement for what it's worth with a cast like this.

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